The Department of Trade, Industry, and Competition has published new regulations which allow online shops to sell any goods, with the exception of alcohol and tobacco.
The lifting of previous restrictions on ecommerce is good news for most ecommerce and courier companies which can now operate normally.
Many ecommerce players are seeing this period as an excellent opportunity for the industry to grow and show their value to consumers.
Takealot CEO Kim Reid said they expect to see increased demand for online service during the COVID-19 lockdown in South Africa.
He said ecommerce played a large part in delivering goods to people in the United States, China and the UK during the lockdown, and the same will happen here.
SARS commissioner Edward Kieswetter echoed these views, saying the lockdown provides South Africa with an opportunity to think about and prepare for the future.
This includes “using the COVID-moment” to disrupt legacy business models and to leapfrog into the future. “Ecommerce provides that,” he said.
Kieswetter said the COVID-19 pandemic is simply fast-tracking us into the future. “We dare not miss this opportunity.”
This echoes the view of Parcelninja CEO Justin Drennan, who said the lockdown has accelerated ecommerce by 3-5 years.
Companies had to rapidly change to meet demand and are now ready to offer their services at scale in South Africa.
“The coronavirus pandemic and lockdown have moved online food and FMCG sales forward by five years,” said Drennan.
The biggest ecommerce winners
Allowing unfettered ecommerce is good news for all online shops, but some ecommerce players are better positioned than others to take advantage of the regulatory change.
Traditional retailers like Makro, Cape Union Mart, Toys R Us and Wellness Warehouse have had challenges with their ecommerce operations.
These brick-and-mortar stores have not invested enough in their online shopping experience and is behind companies like Takealot in terms of service levels.
This means they will struggle to catch up now when there is a sudden surge in demand with the relaxed ecommerce regulations.
In comparison, pure-play ecommerce companies and enablers, like Takealot and ParcelNinja, are perfectly positioned to capitalise on the online shopping wave which will now hit South Africa.
Takealot has an excellent warehousing and logistics network, and through its marketplace, it is offering this network to online businesses.
So instead of creating their own fulfilment strategy, companies can create an online store using Takealot’s established and trusted platform.
This is also the case with ParcelNinja, which offers outsourced warehousing and fulfilment services to companies.
Instead of running their own warehouse and delivery service, online shops can outsource this to ParcelNinja and focus on marketing and sourcing desirable products.